Obama admin recalibrating Benghazi narrative — again — before FP debate?

posted at 5:31 pm on October 20, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Since it now appears that the first two presidential debates did very much indeed have a resounding effect on the state of the race, Team O can’t afford to take any chances with Monday’s foreign-policy debate. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s narrative on the president’s foreign-policy record has long been that all of those drone strikes and the death of Osama bin Laden have vastly deteriorated the strength and coordination of terrorism in the Middle East, and the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi and the death of four Americans on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 put something of a damper on that narrative.

Now it looks like the White House might be trying to rejigger that narrative yet again align more favorably with President Obama’s self-stated successes, do some damage control on his administration’s incompetent and bungled response to repeated security threats in the region, and may be most particularly looking get any “al Qaeda”-related language out of the Libya story. Fox News reported last night:

The intelligence community on Friday once again modified its assessment of what caused the deadly terror attack last month on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya – returning in part to claims that the violence was in reaction to a protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over an anti-Islam film.

At the same time, the latest assessment acknowledged there was no actual protest in Benghazi at the time of the attack and that “extremist” elements were likely involved. …

The latest assessment appears to fall somewhere between the flawed account U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice gave on Sept. 16 claiming the attack was “spontaneous” and a subsequent revision on Sept. 28 by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claiming it was a coordinated terror attack.

Then, as Stephen Hayes summarized at the Weekly Standard this morning,

The administration’s new line takes shape in two articles out Saturday, one in the Los Angeles Times and the other by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. The Times piece reports that there is no evidence of an al Qaeda role in the attack. The Ignatius column makes a directly political argument, claiming that “the Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attacks weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior intelligence official.”

If this is the best the Obama administration can offer in its defense, they’re in trouble. The Times story is almost certainly wrong and the central part of the Ignatius “scoop” isn’t a scoop at all.

As Hayes goes on to point out, this new intelligence claiming that there is no evidence that al Qaeda was involved in the attacks, directly contradicts earlier reports and evidence claiming that al Qaeda and/or affiliates may very well have been involved in the attacks — and either way, none of this gets around the undeniable fact that the Obama administration failed to deal with longstanding security concerns.

It’s really quite jarring that Team Obama can accuse Mitt Romney & friends of trying to distort the Benghazi situation for political purposes, when it is abundantly clear that that is what’s going on with the White House here. This is raising some serious questions in the intelligence community and from Congress about the White House’s manipulative handling of the situation, and certain Republicans (rightly) aren’t going to let this go, per Politico:

The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security late Friday demanded President Barack Obama release the intelligence reports behind the administration’s evolving explanation for the  burning of the Benghazi consulate.

In a letter, Peter King (R-N.Y) echoed fellow House Republicans’ calls in  demanding the release of intelligence that led the administration to initially conclude protests over an inflammatory Internet film led to the attack, and  “subsequent Intelligence Community analyses which led your Administration to determine that the events of September 11, 2012 represented a terrorist attack.” …

In a letter to President Barack Obama sent earlier Friday,  Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) called for a “full and immediate account”  of the administration’s decisions leading up to and in the wake of the  attack. …


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

I hope Bolton and Newt are heavily involved in Mitt’s debate prep.

Kataklysmic on October 20, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Speaking of Bolton, I would love to see Mitt pick him as Sec State, but you know the establishment Repubs will never let that happen.

Alabama Infidel on October 20, 2012 at 7:59 PM

It’s really quite jarring that Team Obama can accuse Mitt Romney & friends of trying to distort the Benghazi situation for political purposes, when it is abundantly clear that that is what’s going on with the White House here.

That is one of their central tactics. Accuse the right of committing the dastardly things you are doing(many times openly and without shame)loudly, often and from many sources. The public will ignore your actions and be outraged that the right would stoop to such things. It is working well with the war on women and racism.

tdarrington on October 20, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Common lib tactic because liberalism (not traditional liberal, but modern) is a mental disease and a fairly consistent trait is projection.

IrishEyes on October 20, 2012 at 8:04 PM

My biggest fear is that an unmanned drone will fly out of JugEars and attack Romney!

redware on October 20, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Tacticly, the main thing Romney must NOT do is ask Obama questions, as he was doing in Debate 2. If Obama lies, it puts Romney in the defensive position of refuting. It is far better to make points/allegations in the affirmative, in this kind of setting, which would require Obama to have to dissemble and/or refute, giving Romney a chance to repeat the point once again.

Substantively, as to Benghazi, it is better to stay away from the coverup or the reasons why they changed their stories, those are but “process” issues. The strongest point to raise here is their complete failure to provide even minimum security to (and actually withdrew security assets from) a consulate that had been attacked twice, in April and June, a consulate located in a part of the country swarming with AQ and its affiliates, and after numerous requests by security professionals and the Ambassador himself for enhanced security, and on none other than the first anniversary of 9/11 after taking out OBL.

TXUS on October 20, 2012 at 7:30 PM

I think there are three things that Romney needs to aim at Obama.

1) Why was there no security?

2) Why did they keep talking about a spontaneous protest against a stupid movie when it was clear that it was a planned attack?

3) Why did they keep apologizing for the movie in the first place? Do we or do we not have freedom of speech to write a book or make a movie calling Mohammed a pervert or a fraud if we believe that is accurate? Why can not the president of the United States say plainly, “We’re sorry it offended you, but the people who made this video had every right to do it, and we will protect and defend that right.”

tom on October 20, 2012 at 8:07 PM

It’s normal that the government arms go out of their way, at their expense even, to protect a sitting president.

But what astounded/astounds me is the fact that Bush was deemed the tyrant by the media and Democrats for having such benefit but Obama is not.

The unique, exceptional US is turning more and more into the rest of the common world.

vnohara on October 20, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Obama admin recalibrating Benghazi narrative — again — before FP debate?

So what is the story this time???

Embassy staff’s children playing with guns in the office???

This would be laughable…except for the fact that it’s NOT FUNNY: it’s deadly serious, and Obama and his apologists are totally clueless!!!

landlines on October 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM

I’m still waiting on the intelligence community to have its day or are they all Democrats?

txhsmom on October 20, 2012 at 8:15 PM

To summarize, Intelligence didn’t foresee the attack. Intelligence, after five weeks, is struggling to determine the details behind the attack.

The Intelligence does not appear to be appropriately named.

socalcon on October 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Just as an aside: You know, there were at least 30 people in the consulate who ran for the safe house and were extracted by the small (8-man?) Marine rescues team. We have yet to hear a word of their experiences during that attack.
Would anyone care to hazard a guess WHY we haven’t heard from people who were actually there and know what happened?

Solaratov on October 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Tim_CA on October 20, 2012 at 5:34 PM

I thoroughly enjoy Erika’s writing, for insight and wit.

Love ya, Erika. Glad yer here.

petefrt on October 20, 2012 at 8:53 PM

It would be nice if once, just once, the msm in this country could be Americans first and part of the Obama Campaign second. (which they shouldn’t be at all, but I am way to old for miracles)

I was starting to get hopeful because CNN had a pretty in depth report about the inconsistencies and incompetence. They even had the NYT reporter who met with one of the supposed ringleaders. Then someone reaches out and remains them what their role is.

I am beyond disgusted and incredibly sad that this level of dishonesty exists with the very people who are supposed to expose lies and help us keep this an open honest government.

marnes on October 20, 2012 at 8:53 PM

This has bad idea written all over it. You’ve already had to walk back your previous bad explanation… you’re just setting yourself up for another one on National TV.

And if it happens during the debates Obama is toast.

Chaz706 on October 20, 2012 at 8:55 PM

The regime wants to split hairs on this by saying it’s not AQ since Ansar Al Sharia seems to be the culprit. They’re all one and the same to me. Barry and the guys/gals just can’t seem to find a story to stick to. What’s funny is watching the leftie media spinning around trying to keep up with the story. Kinda like a little dog doing a spin on his hind legs.

Kissmygrits on October 20, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Anybody heard a peep outta the video guy lately?

Kissmygrits on October 20, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Would anyone care to hazard a guess WHY we haven’t heard from people who were actually there and know what happened?

Solaratov on October 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

CIA — the covert variety.

Nichevo on October 20, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Anybody heard a peep outta the video guy lately?

Kissmygrits on October 20, 2012 at 9:01 PM

I’m a little surprised he hasn’t been shot trying to escape yet.

farsighted on October 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Just as an aside: You know, there were at least 30 people in the consulate who ran for the safe house and were extracted by the small (8-man?) Marine rescues team. We have yet to hear a word of their experiences during that attack.
Would anyone care to hazard a guess WHY we haven’t heard from people who were actually there and know what happened?

Solaratov on October 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

They’re being debriefed. Or deprogrammed? Or reprogrammed?

onlineanalyst on October 20, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Speaking of Bolton, I would love to see Mitt pick him as Sec State, but you know the establishment Repubs will never let that happen.

Alabama Infidel on October 20, 2012 at 7:59 PM

He picked Paul Ryan, didn’t he? I have a feeling Mitt might just turn out fine.

Rixon on October 20, 2012 at 9:18 PM

I’m still waiting on the intelligence community to have its day or are they all Democrats?

txhsmom on October 20, 2012 at 8:15 PM

.
The key is the timing of what you release …

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-33816_162-57536611/could-u.s-military-have-helped-during-libya-attack/?tag=socsh

… based upon what the SCOAMF administration is doing …

W.H. Tries to Write Al Qaeda Out of Libya Story – link in hot Air Headlines

… so the SCOAMF debate prep is kept constantly off balance.

If I were a pi$$ed of intelligence insider(s)?

I would leak the best information as seperate pieces to multiple sources from Sunday evening until Monday at noon.

Which would consume the news cycles right up to the kick off of the Foreign Policy debate.

PolAgnostic on October 20, 2012 at 9:21 PM

So, let me get this straight. This was an attack, not a protest, but the video may have somehow someway motivated the attack?

How they HECK do you justify THAT sort of absurd logic!? First off, how do you attribute motivation to a person when that person isn’t on hand and you’re not even entirely certain who had the original idea? Second, why would they need new motivation? These same organizations have been trying to hurt us for over a decade now, and they certainly didn’t need new justification to launch every new attack.

At this point, we’re essentially getting another story every single day, and they’re getting blatantly more political the longer it goes on. By mid-week the CIA’s gonna leak that the attack was carried out by Rush Limbaugh and GOP activists.

Okay probably not, but it kinda feels like that!!

WolvenOne on October 20, 2012 at 9:24 PM

So why is it seemingly so important to the Obama admin to, allegedly, make sure the “facts” about this “protest” in Benghazi are absolutely, positively, with all of the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, right before they make any judgement at all about it?

Are they planning to invade Libya or something? Are they planning some extraordinarily violent response if some suspicions pan out to be true?

Of course not. This is all an attempt coverup the facts because they are terrified the facts contradict the foreign policy success narrative put forth by Obama at their nominating convention.

If they get really, really desperate bombs may be dropped in Libya within a week. I think the odds may be approaching 50-50. The Boys From Chicago have to do something, and they are ruthless.

farsighted on October 20, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Would anyone care to hazard a guess WHY we haven’t heard from people who were actually there and know what happened?

Solaratov on October 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

If any of them make a peep, they and/or their families will be hauled in for “parole violations.”

Rixon on October 20, 2012 at 9:30 PM

If I were a pi$$ed of intelligence insider(s)?

I would leak the best information as seperate pieces to multiple sources from Sunday evening until Monday at noon.

Which would consume the news cycles right up to the kick off of the Foreign Policy debate.

PolAgnostic on October 20, 2012 at 9:21 PM

I’m optimistic this will happen.

petefrt on October 20, 2012 at 9:34 PM

txhsmom on October 20, 2012 at 8:15 PM

A large number of “Intelligence Agents” are recruited from Ivy League schools. Does that answer your question?

chemman on October 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Hey all, as some of you know I am over here in AFG and w/o going into a realm I cannot discuss here, lets just say that what your gut tells you is correct on this. The POTUS is spinning big time and this was a well orchestrated attack. I know whereof I speak.

Time for bed for me as it is 6:10 am.

PS Google how many attacks both US and British Embassies were hit prior to this… Just as our wing nuts did some trial runs on 9/11/01, you do not think they did some prior to THIS 9/11? This is why there were so many Cables by AMB Stevens because he saw the signs prior to 9/11

Good nite from the Hindu Kush!

g2825m on October 20, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I’m surprised that Ignatius isn’t collecting a double paycheck. One from WaPo, the other from the Obama White House.

He shills for them often enough.

GarandFan on October 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM

In a letter to President Barack Obama sent earlier Friday, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) called for a “full and immediate account” of the administration’s decisions leading up to and in the wake of the attack. …

Oh, I am sure, sure, I tell you, that Hussein and admin are losing sleep over that. Just as they did with all other Issa “investigations”.

Anyone care to remind me about anything that has ever happened to anyone Issa and GOP have investigated? How mane are serving time? Or will?

This is all about GOP putting on a nice show for TV appearances and FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO GOP, but as always, NOTHING will happen. They have no balls.

riddick on October 21, 2012 at 12:19 AM

In a letter to President Barack Obama sent earlier Friday, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) called for a “full and immediate account” of the administration’s decisions leading up to and in the wake of the attack. …

That Embasy was US ground. Mitt wins this all goes away. These two will stop the investigation.

Obama wins and Impeachment is assured as it will take that to get any information.

Obama is more deserving of Impeachment than any President ever in America.

Steveangell on October 21, 2012 at 12:21 AM

The White House dog ate the intelligence report.

logman1 on October 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Look, I’m not exactly a fan of the Obamas, but I think that it’s wrong to bring Big Mooch into this.

justltl on October 21, 2012 at 1:00 AM

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/oct/20/picket-anti-muslim-filmmaker-detained-almost-month/

Here’s why you haven’t heard anything from “the video guy”…

He’s STILL being held for what?????

roxi618 on October 21, 2012 at 1:16 AM

Obama wins and Impeachment is assured as it will take that to get any information.

Steveangell on October 21, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Please tell me how. This will go exactly same way as all other Issa investigations: NOWHERE. Whether Romney wins or not.

riddick on October 21, 2012 at 1:18 AM

Solaratov on October 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Rixon on October 20, 2012 at 9:30 PM

What leads you to believe that the majority of those people were American Nationals… or even folks we’d admit to knowing?

CPT. Charles on October 21, 2012 at 6:20 AM

I want the paper trail for the movie explanation.

Also, why choose this ridiculous movie trailer instead of one of the many Islam-exposing web sites that actually get thousands of hits per day, and get the attention of the jihadmonkeys?

Akzed on October 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM

g2825m on October 20, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Godspeed, G.

AJsDaddie on October 21, 2012 at 12:40 PM

We can expect more lies from the idiot in chief at Monday night’s debate and old Commie Shieffer will cover for him.

jqc1970 on October 21, 2012 at 1:42 PM

trying to rejigger that narrative

RACIST!!!!!!!

SoRight on October 21, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Obama wins and Impeachment is assured as it will take that to get any information.

Steveangell on October 21, 2012 at 12:21 AM

..if there are no farms near your location, you can come over to my spread and we’ll pick out a nice fat hen for you to pump.

The War Planner on October 21, 2012 at 5:24 PM

This issue might actually go farther if Romney wins and the Republicans take back the Senate. The House might impeach Obummer but the Senate is too full of Demoncrats right now. Demoncrats will never vote to convict Obummer if the Demoncrats are still controlling the Senate (and maybe not ever).

sherrimae on October 21, 2012 at 11:23 PM

big congrats, Erika. Drudge has this way high up on his page.

ted c on October 22, 2012 at 4:34 AM

Comment pages: 1 2